Reports on Health and the Environment

Cycle for Sustainability 2005

Cycle for Sustainability 2005, by Nick Towle

In July 2005 two DEA members, Nick Towle & Michelle Allen, left Brisbane on an epic 4000km cycle journey down the east coast of Australia which will culminate in mid December in Hobart. Here is their story.

There is no doubt that our current way of life is harming the planet and its inhabitants. However, indifference and pessimism will do nothing to remedy this.

Inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ I (Nick) began developing Cycle for Sustainability in 2004. The intention was to create an inspiring education campaign to engage school groups and the broader community on issues and actions toward sustainability.

The Environmental Effects of Warfare.

The environmental effects of warfare, and the links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

A Talk to Nature and Society Forum, Canberra June 15, 2005 by
Dr Sue Wareham, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

War and the Environment
It’s actually quite hard to find an up-to-date study of the total global impacts of military activity (war and preparations for war) on the environment, although there is some information on specific wars and their effects. This subject is generally not studied systematically and it is an issue that the environmental movement has not focussed on in a sustained fashion. I will describe some of the major effects and give some examples, though not in any order of importance

The Chinese Miracle Will End Soon

This is a remarkable interview on the environmental problems in China published in Der Spiegel and translated from German. At first, I wondered if it was a hoax because it is so candid. But it appears genuine. Editor

DER SPIEGEL March 7, 2005 Interview with China's Deputy Minister of the Environment
"The Chinese Miracle Will End Soon”

The world has been dazzled in recent years by the economic strides being made by China. But it has come at a huge cost to the country's environment. Pollution is a serious and costly problem. Pan Yue of the ministry of the environment says these problems will soon overwhelm the country and will create millions of "environmental refugees."

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2001-2005). A World Saver?

By Colin Butler

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was called for by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. Conceived in the late 1990s, following the disappointing response to its predecessor,(1) the MA formally started in 2001. Its objective was to assess the consequences of past, present and future ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for actions to enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems, in order to enhance human well-being.

The MA has now almost completed this Herculean task. Its birth was announced simultaneously in 12 cities on March 30 and March 31, 2005. As one of two “co-ordinating lead authors” for the chapter “Human Well-Being across the scenarios”(2) I participated in one of these launches, in New Delhi, India.

Scientists Prove Less Trees, Less Rain

Friday 11 March 2005

Sydney - Australian scientists have found that deforestation along the Amazon River in South America was reducing rainfall and causing climate change in the region.....

Reuters click here to go to the original

Tsunami in Sri Lanka; A Personal Story

n our home town of Melbourne, Boxing Day has a special meaning. Thousands of cricket fans, like us, savour the opportunity to watch Australia’s finest do battle with old rivals such as England, the West Indies or India.

But for us, it is now a day to remember for an entirely different reason.

On Boxing Day 2004, we witnessed the tsunami destroying a village, with lives, buildings and futures swept away. The shock we felt was tempered only by the fact that we escaped physically unharmed.

My wife, Sian, and our children Sam, 12, Rosie, 10, and Matilda, 6, had begun our long-planned and anticipated Sri Lankan holiday several days earlier at Unawatuna near Galle on the south-west coast. On the fateful morning, I was keen for us to travel to the nearby coastal hamlet of Mirissa. I had organised a driver and was waiting for Sian to get ready before we went to breakfast. She had just returned from a run along Unawatuna beach. We were staying at the Sea View hotel where we had an upstairs apartment for the kids and a ground floor flat for us. Our flat was in a garden setting about 50 metres from the beach.

Ecological Sustainability in Human Society

The achievement of ecological sustainability by human society worldwide is the great challenge of the first part of the twenty first century. It is an issue of overwhelming importance, because if a society is not ecologically sustainable, it cannot in the long term be sustainable in any other way. Some of us believe Australia is in a favoured position to lead the world in making this transition.

We must plan for a new biosensitive society – that is, a society that is sensitive to the biological needs both of the natural environment and of all sections of the human population. This will require very big changes in our patterns of resource and energy use and in our societal arrangements.

BOOK REVIEW. Into the Future; The Neglect of the Long Term in Australian Politics

Into the Future; The Neglect of the Long Term in Australian Politics by Ian Marsh and David Yencken
This monograph of 89 pages concisely outlines the issues and problems with the present political system with particular emphasis on the long term strategic analysis and planning that is so essential if society is to become sustainable. It is essential reading for those working to influence political outcomes.

The point is made that whilst it is not possible to predict the future, it is nevertheless essential that long term strategic problems are addressed. For example within the sphere of interest of Doctors for the Environment Australia, the authors state “The long term implications of current economic and social practices for climate change, water availability and use, loss of biodiversity and land degradation are deep seated concerns of environmental scientists and environmentalists. These and many other people are expressing concern about the future of Australia and the lack of attention to strategic monitoring and analysis”. An examination of the unresolved strategic problem of salinity is illustrative. We have known of the problem and its threats for over a century. Yet are we coping with it? The Land and Water Audit found that salinity was out of control everywhere. To allow this to happen “There must be failures of research and technical analysis; failures of public education and involvement; failures of recognition, debate and engagement in parliament, the government and bureaucracy - all leading to an unwillingness of governments to act”. In considering such issues the book analyses the reasons for the se failures, determines the necessary conditions for sustained debate about the issues and then suggests what we can do to improve our capacity for strategic review and action.

Outside View: Tsunami, Mangroves & Economy

Washington Times: click here
By Devinder Sharma, UPI Outside View Commentator

New Delhi, India, Jan. 10 (UPI)
-- As the first news reports of the devastation caused by the tsunami killer waves began to pour in, a newsreader on India's Aaj Tak's television channel asked its correspondent reporting from the scene of destruction in Tamil Nadu in south of India : "Any idea about how much is the loss to business? Can you find that out because that would be more important for our business leaders?"

On Asia's Coasts, Progress Destroys Natural Defences

Andrew Browne, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL December 31, 2004; Page A5

HONG KONG -- The ring of coral in crystal waters around the Surin Island chain off Thailand's west coast forms a sturdy defense against the sea. So when the tsunami struck on Sunday it punched a few holes in the reef, but the structure mostly held firm.

The reef, says Thai marine environmentalist Thon Thamrongnavasawadi, may have saved many lives. Only a handful of people on the islands are known to have perished -- most scrambled to safety as the first wave exploded against the coral.

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